New Delhi : The largest Indian business delegation to Pakistan, consisting of some 150 members and led by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, will take part in a series of events, including an “India Show” in Lahore, over four days starting Monday.
Co-hosted by the two leading Indian business chambers, the event will mark the first visit of an Indian trade minister to Pakistan in 30 years in an exercise aimed at ramping bilateral trade to $10 billion in three years.
The delegation includes some top names from India’s corporate world, including Rajan Bharti Mittal, vice chairman and managing director, Bharti Enterprises; Sunil Kant Munjal, chairman, Hero Corporate Services; K K Modi, chairman, Modi Enterprises; Harsh Pati Singhania, managing director, JK Paper; Naresh Goyal, chairman, Jet Airways; Jyotsna Suri, chairperson and managing director, Bharat Hotels; and Arun Nanda, chairman, Mahindra Holidays and Resorts.
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) president R. V. Kanoria and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) president B. Muthuraman will lead the delegations of their respective chambers.
The delegations will visit Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad for close interaction with Pakistani CEOs and officials in what is being described as a “landmark initiative” for removing the barriers so that the volume of two-way trade reaches its potential of $10 billion in the next three years.
“Any delegation to Pakistan goes beyond business and trade. It will help deepen overall ties and improve people-to-people contact between the two countries,” said FICCI president Kanoria, who is also chairman of Kanoria Chemicals and Industries.
Kanoria said besides senior officials, chief executives of over 100 companies would visit Pakistan to explore business opportunities. “There will be a lot of participation from small and medium enterprises as well,” he said.
Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar, chairman and managing director of India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) Rita Menon and senior officials from the department of customs and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will also be part of the delegation that will visit Pakistan Feb 13-16.
The delegation will have a series of meetings with business leaders and government officials of Pakistan, including Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim.
Bilateral trade between India and Pakistan was recorded at $2.7 billion in 2010-11. Trade balance is heavily in favour of India with its exports at $2.3 billion and imports from Pakistan at $332 million.
Major items of export from India to Pakistan are sugar, cotton, man-made filaments and chemicals, while its top imports from Pakistan include edible fruit, mineral fuels, and organic chemicals.
“The trade potential between our two countries is very high and based on strong fundamental complementarities. One step of opening up of the Wagah border for all tradeable items would double bilateral trade,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general, CII.